Major League Baseball announced last month that the start of its season would be pushed back indefinitely amid the spread of the coronavirus. Ron Darling thinks the season may just be called off this year.
The former New York Mets pitcher and SNY broadcast analyst said this week that he is increasingly pessimistic that there will be a baseball season at all in 2020, noting that the future is uncertain due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Darling told the New York Post that he believes the league would need to keep players and fans safe, which would be impossible with the virus still spreading.
“I would always try to err that all of our people are taken care of and protected before I decide to play any sport,” Darling said. “That’s not baseball or basketball or hockey, that’s all the sports. Have we taken care of citizens and made sure they are on the right track? When they are on the right track, then we will give them something to watch.”
All major American sports leagues — along with leagues around the world — have gone on hiatus due to the spread of the virus, with no clarity on when any of them could return.
Darling noted that the outbreak has led to different areas of the United States adopting varying measures, and that there would likely be places where games could still not be played even if a season did start this year. Going forward with the season would also require players to be in close proximity in locker rooms and on the field, which could put them at risk, he added.
“You’re in locker rooms that couldn’t be any closer space for guys to be together in and let’s use whatever energies, resources, let’s do whatever we can to take care of the people that love baseball and once we have got them taken care of and on the mend and protected, then let’s think about throwing a pitch and hitting the ball,” he said.
Experts have said that some amount of social distancing will need to remain in place until a coronavirus vaccine is created, which could be anywhere from 12 to 18 months from the start of the outbreak. That could mean that not only would the 2020 season be canceled, but the 2021 season would get off to a later start as well.
Darling’s assessment of the MLB season also seems to match rumors from the NBA, where a recent report indicated the league is looking at canceling the remainder of the 2019-20 season entirely.